1 October, 2017
2017 – Florence Day 1 – A Three Hour Tour
Woke up this morning literally with a very cold shower. Apparently last night there was a gas leak in the apartment building and the gas was turned off at some point. Even though Antimo got up and turned it back on, I wasn’t able to get any warm water. Oh well, I moved a little faster through my morning routine and we were out the door on time.
Left Rome today to travel to Florence. Antimo ordered our taxi, we said our sad goodbyes, and off we went to the train station – you know the one – where the gypsies swarm the metro areas. Today, they had several old women walking around with cups for people to give them money. I guess because it’s Sunday they think people will be more charitable and don’t have to pick their pockets?
We were on a fast train so arrived in Florence in a little over an hour. Ah, this city is so magical and special. The taxi dropped us off at our BNB and we reunited with Claudia. If you followed the blog from a few years ago, you may remember we stayed at Claudia’s house because her BNB was full. This year there was room at the inn.
Suitcases quickly unpacked, and we’re off to find lunch. Claudia recommended this place. The name of the ristorante means “The Cat and The Fox.” Ricardo was thrilled he found wild boar on the menu so he had tagliatelle with cinghiale. I ordered tomato soup and didn’t realize it was prepared Tuscan style (duh!) which means there was bread in the soup. Lots of bread… too bready for me, but it had a nice flavor.
We’ve kind of gotten in the habit of eating our main meal at lunch – with wine of course. So we sat and reminisced about other visits to Florence and how good it was to be back, while we waited for lunch to be served.
Tomato soup with basil and lots of bread.
Ricardo’s tagliatelle with wild boar sauce.
After lunch, we walked around a little trying to get our bearings. A short distance away, in Piazza della Signoria, we saw this. Believe me, it’s uglier in person than in this picture. Truly a travesty being in the same piazza as David (even though the David outside in this area is a replica). With all the beautiful art we’ve seen on this trip, this looked like someone just threw some big chunks of cement on top of each other to make a tower. Any guesses what the name of this artwork was called? I’ll even give you a hint, the name is as simple and ugly as the piece of art. I’ll reveal the name after a few guesses.
The line to get into the Ufficio was ridiculously long – we weren’t going there – just mentioning it because we had to weave in and out of the line to get past the crowds to visit the Ponte Vecchio.
I’m pointing a few things out to Ricardo, although he feels safe because we have very little money and no credit cards at this point. He was running interference across the entire bridge walking between me and the store windows. It was just fun to look. Cheri, the Papini shop was closed today so we’ll have to come back to check it out for you. I may even go inside this time. 🙂
We met up with Maria Giovanna (Antimo’s cousin) and her friend Paola who took us around town and gave us some great recommendations for places to eat and interesting places to visit. Maria and Paola were so enthusiastic to show us parts of Florence we had not seen, and they did! We met up with them about 3:30 and said our final good-byes to Maria around 6:30 pm. Our impromptu get together and city tour lasted three hours. She’s Antimo’s cousin all right – making sure we are getting in our steps for the day – ha ha.
The place where we are posed is a former prison that has been repurposed into many things: apartments, restaurants, bookshop, and more. They have concerts in the square. Lots of young people (like college age students) enjoy this area.
Maria Giovanna in front of one of the restaurants.
Ricardo coming out of one of the prison cells that had been turned into a public toilet.
The sign means “The Prisons” and Ricardo is trying to escape!
We walked by the Jewish temple that was being heavily guarded by the police. So sad that is how the climate of the world is today. It deterred us from wanting to take a peek inside, even with five police guarding the outside.
Then we were shown where the Mercato is located – not the pig market or any of the other famous, well-known markets in Florence, this one is where the locals go and pick up the fruits and vegetables, as well as clothes and household items. It was closed because it is Sunday, but we may venture back to check it out another day.
Maria took us into a beautiful church Basilica della S.S. Annunziata where monks were chanting as we entered. At first, we thought it was a recording, but then we saw them sitting together in a vestibule type area. The frescos on the walls and ceilings were amazing. And gold leaf on the ceiling too. Photos weren’t good because the church was dark and I didn’t want to disturb the chanting monks and some local worshipers. Check the link above for more information and pictures of this beautiful church. Yes, I know, I said I was churched out, but this was worth taking in the uniqueness of the layout of the church as well as the art.
We walked by the confessional and there was a long waiting line! Someone must have committed a lot of sins because he or she was in there a long time. Ricardo figured it was a “she” and would walk out of the confessional looking like a “lady of the night” but we didn’t wait around to find out. Ricardo said he would get in line if I paid him five euros. Right! (I think he was just trying to get some money in his pocket since I now carry what euros we have left.)
Next, we went to a new museum Museo Degli Innocenti that has only been open a year. It was originally an Italian orphanage and hospital that has been turned into a museum. The girl in the bookshop gave us some of the history of the building which was fascinating. The museum was closed for the day so we’ll go back and visit tomorrow.
We ran into this place on our way back to the BNB. Having Maria along with us was great because she herself is an artist and paints on canvas as well as ceramics. You can check her art at M.G. Designs on Facebook. She appreciates good art when she sees it and was in awe of this artist. He invited us in to see his creations – it was more beauty than the eye could take in. Oh, how I wish I could bring one home – most of the paintings were the size of walls though. Huge! You can check out Gianfranco’s art on his website http://www.fondazionemello.it/.
Tired and walked out, we went back to the BNB. And by the way, the BNB is considered to be located on the second floor, however, there are four sets of stairs (each set is 12-13 stairs) plus a half a flight of stairs to get to the stairs. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but really people of Europe, just admit four flights of stairs should be considered the 4th floor!
No dinner tonight – too tired to go back out and climb the stairs to get back in. 😉